I usually try to start my reviews with a pertinent quote from the relevant book, but I was somewhat eager to return my copy to the library and I forgot to copy out a quotation for my review. However, it is somewhat appropriate to start the summary of my thoughts about The Science of Discworld with a quote from one of my favourite characters from the book - The Librarian.
Never said one word so much.
The Science of Discworld is an attempt to fuse the storyverse created by Terry Pratchett with non-fiction science. Through alternating chapters, we get to see how the Wizards of Discworld, with some help from Hex, create a roundworld very akin to Earth. And, yes, I smirked at the idea that book that spends a lot of time refuting creationism, is based on a story that features ... creationism.
(I should add that I am not a fan of or even giving credence to the theory/ies of creationism, but, equally, I am not a fan of arguments that are full of contradictions.)
This is not the only aspect in which the book failed for me.
As much as I loved the Wizards - especially the Librarian - and Pratchett's Discworld, the science parts in this book just really did not work for me.
The book started out with a random discussion of quantum physics. I am not a scientist. My working knowledge of physics is basic. The opening chapters took a lot of effort because I actually found myself researching different things that the authors referred to on the internet. I don't mind do the research on topics I want to learn about if I feel that it will help me understand the rest of the book.
But not so here, the science parts seemed to jump from one topic to another without referring back to the previous ones. It was so confusing. And the difficulty level of the science parts differed throughout the book, too. It made me wonder what kind of a readership the authors were aiming for. Were they talking to people with pre-existing knowledge of quantum physics but not biology? Or maybe the authors just found it difficult to explain the topics they are experts in but didn't bother to go into the same depths about topics they may not be as familiar with?
I have no idea.
What is clear to me is that the authors of the science parts are not great at communicating. Apart from talking down to readers, or constantly contradicting themselves - for example, when they criticise the act of simplifying a concept to explain it to someone, which the authors decry as "lies to children", only to then use the same simplification to explain concepts to readers -, the authors of the science parts actually managed to ... and this is the dealbreaker ... they managed to make science boring.
And with that they made the book fail. Well, they managed to make half the book fail. The Wizard parts were delightful.
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This is an odd novel, which makes sense, since it was left unfinished at the author’s death. It is a blistering look at economic inequality, set in Austria after WWI and examined through the stories of characters whose circumstances appear to prevent them from ever getting ahead.
Christine is a young woman who was born middle class, but has lived a life of drudgery since her teenage years, when her family lost both money and menfolk to the war. Out of the blue, a rich American aunt invites her to spend two weeks in a Swiss resort, where she flourishes. But on returning home, she is left hating her working-class life, and soon meets a disaffected war veteran who, through many long speeches, provides the intellectual basis for her discontent.
The first half of the book was a lot of fun to read; after an initial slow start, I was quickly absorbed by the story and eager to learn what would happen next. The second half is interesting and brings Zweig’s themes to the forefront, though it is much darker. The end is ambiguous, leaving the characters’ fates up in the air. It is well-written and engaging throughout. The characters feel three-dimensional and realistic, though I wondered in the second half whether Christine is representative of the way an actual Austrian woman in the 1920s would have thought, or only the way a man at the time would have envisioned one (to her, even an active decision to have sex is necessarily an act of submission, and she claims that as a woman she can’t undertake bold action herself, though she can do anything if following her man). And there are a few rough edges and loose ends: I wondered what Christine could have talked about to the moneyed international jet set, which she does constantly and with great animation; without TV or Internet, and without revealing any details of her life, they seem entirely without common ground. I also wondered why she never thought about following up on
the older man who was interested in marrying her; she may not have realized that, but he stood by her and invited her to visit his castle,
which she for some reason never considered as an option later.
But at any rate, this is a short novel and a very engaging read. It moves fairly quickly and the translation is excellent. A pleasant surprise.
Dragon stories always catch my attention, and this is one you will not want to miss.
The Book of Genevieve, Book II of A Dragon’s Tale by Mark Boyd is filled with fantasy adventure. You can see my review for The Prophecy, Book I, HERE.
Check out the lovely covers. What do you think?
The Book of Genevieve by Mark Boyd is the second of A Dragon’s Tale Trilogy. I loved the first one, so I was very happy to continue the journey with Genevieve. Because this is the second book of the series and there is so much wonderful fantasy in store for you, I do not want to give anything away. I will just tell you how I felt as I read along
I couldn’t help but smile when Mark states that all Genevieve wanted were breasts and a normal life. BUT, there is a Prophecy to be fulfilled and she is part of it.
We have elves, Pegasaurs, dragons, demons, vampires, werehounds, trolls, dwarves and two brothers that I fell in love with, Aer and Loer.
I loved when Genevieve and Leto showcased their swordplay, the crowd wildly cheering them on. I could see it like a film playing in my mind. So much fun…as is her first ride on her dragon, soaring, swooping, loop-de-looping, laughing all the way.
I got lost in their fantasy world of new friendships and new alliances. The more characters I met, the more friends I made. Some are rough and gruff, some are easy going, some are young, some are old.
The magical creatures are drawn together to fulfill the Prophecy. Some will die, especially sad about the one, but as some pass on, new babes are born.
I can hardly wait to learn the ending of this does not stand alone trilogy in Mishmakor, The Dragon King.
I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of The Book of Genevieve by Mark Boyd.
MY MARK BOYD REVIEWS
Picture the scene: Victorian London. A smoky club. A group of literary icons. The price to join this group? A story of the supernatural. The scene is now set.
Imagine the tales these writers of old would share. Stoker, Dickens, Wells, James, and Stevenson, among others. What price would you pay to sit at that table? Unfortunately, the opportunity to sit there in person is gone, but thanks to William Meikle, you CAN now be privy to these stories and anything else these authors have to say. The entrance fee for you? Quite reasonable!
The standout tales for me were:
WEE DAVIE MAKES A FRIEND (in the style of) Robert Louis Stevenson. This was the first story and my favorite of the collection. Young Davie is an unwell boy and is often bedridden. The gift of a new toy changes his life.
ONCE A JACKASS (in the style of) Mark Twain. A Mississippi steamship captain makes a terrible mistake and unfortunately, all of the passengers and crew pay the price.
THE SCRIMSHAW SET (in the style of Henry James) I adored this tale of a haunted (?) chess set. This was my second favorite tale in this collection and I've just read that the author is planning to write more about this set in the future. I can't wait!
TO THE MOON AND BEYOND (in the style of Jules Verne) A super cool story about a man, his rocket and a trip to the moon. What was found there and what did he bring back with him? You'll have to read this to find out!
BORN OF ETHER (in the style of Helena Blavatsky) A man embarks upon a supernatural journey to freedom.
I was not familiar with a few of the authors here, Helena Blavatsky included, but I think the author did a stellar job of emulating their writing styles. These tales were entertaining, well written and I loved the framework within which they were presented.
For these reasons, I highly recommend this gem of a collection!
You can get your copy here, (your price of admission, rather than a story):
*Thanks to Crystal Lake Publishing and the author for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*